Electrical Switches and Sockets – A Buyer’s Guide

This is a layman’s information to the things you must consider earlier than embarking on a new build or renovation project.


The first problem many people encounter is the bewildering array of electrical terminology used. Here is a transient clarification of the fundamental phrases you will come across.

Gang: the number of switches or sockets on one plate. A light swap with three switches is called a three gang switch. A normal double socket is called a 2 gang socket.

Approach: the number of switches capable of switching a light. For flexibility, custom popsocket most switches are 2-way. A light managed from 1 change only requires a 1-manner swap (though a 2-way change can be used without any issues). A light managed from 2 switches e.g. a landing light, would require two 2-way switches.

Intermediate: if a light could be activated from 3 totally different switches, two of them will have to be 2-method switches, and the third an intermediate switch.

Single Pole: a single pole change has one contact. When switched it’ll break only the live present and depart the neutral present intact.

Double Pole: a double pole change has separate contacts and will break both live and impartial currents. Double pole switches are recommended in most situations, especially if there are children in the house.


Bear in mind, you can put as many switches and sockets onto an electrical circuit as you require. However, it is nonetheless price planning where you’ll need them earlier than you buy. It is best to think about the totally different wants of the room and your way of life: where do you require most power sockets? With the proliferation of electrical gadgets you should set up more sockets than you think you will have, and make them double sockets fairly than single sockets, as the value difference is minimal.

Always buy switched sockets for further protection. This doesn’t apply to sockets for kitchen appliances reminiscent of freezers, which shouldn’t be switched in case the switches are unintentionally turned off.

Most individuals only put 1 TV level in a room; don’t make that mistake! Install TV factors on a minimum of 2 totally different partitions in a room, you might well need to re-arrange the furniture and move the TV in the future.

Also consider the lighting wants of a room. Dimmer switches provide a relatively cheap and straightforward option to vary the light levels in a room, particularly helpful for creating different moods in dining, living or bedrooms. Keep in mind that if a light is to be operated from 2 places, and one of many switches to be used is a dimmer, the opposite have to be a typical 2-method light switch, not a dimmer.

Flat or raised plate?

The variations listed below are more than simply aesthetic. Flat plate sockets look sleek, modern and sophisticated, but in addition they offer a sensible, house-saving resolution to fitting sockets behind furniture. However, the drawback for renovations is that they usually require deeper back boxes than have been originally put in, 35mm moderately than 25mm. Changing back boxes can be time consuming and messy.

Screwed or screwless?

Aesthetically, screwless flat plate switches give a fair more trendy look than screwed flat plate, but screwless switches and sockets have an added advantage: they save you money and time too, as they can be fitted without the entrance plate before you decorate, then painted round rapidly and simply with out using masking tape or worrying about marking the plate. When dry, merely clip the front plate on.


Polished chrome, brushed metal and black nickel are the most well-liked trendy finishes. The disadvantage of polished chrome particularly is that it shows up finger marks very easily. A technique to assist to keep away from this is to decide on a range the place the plate is polished chrome or black nickel, however the switches themselves are made of black or white plastic. Of the 3 finishes mentioned above, brushed steel (also known as brushed chrome) is the best to keep clean.